Potato Puffs {a.k.a. Gourmet Tater Tots}

from melskitchencafe.com

*Note: the puffs need to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour before baking but they can be made up to 8 hours ahead of time.

*Makes about 2 dozen potato puffs

1 1/2 pounds russet baking potatoes (about 2-3 large), peeled and quartered

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup grated Parmesan or sharp cheddar cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 large eggs

2 cups panko bread crumbs (found in the Asian-foods aisle)

Boil the potatoes for 12-13 minutes, until they are tender but not overcooked. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Mash them with a potato masher until they are smooth. Over very low heat, add the butter and milk and mash until the potatoes are light and creamy, about 1-2 minutes. Remove the pot from the head and add the cheese, salt and pepper. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. You should have a smooth, soft mixture. If it seems a bit too stiff and not creamy enough, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons milk to adjust the consistency. Keep in mind, you’ll be rolling this mixture into balls so you don’t want it so soft it will fall apart while rolling.

Let the mixture cool slightly. In a shallow bowl or pie plate, whisk the eggs until blended and season them lightly with salt and pepper. Place the panko on a large plate or pie dish.

Lightly flour your hands and form a heaping 2 tablespoons of the mashed potato mixture into a ball and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Repeat this process until all of the potato mixture is rolled. You should have 22-28 potato puffs, depending on how big or small you rolled them.

Dip a potato puff into the egg mixture, coating it lightly on all sides then dip it in the panko until it is coated. Place on the cookie sheet and repeat with remaining puffs. Cover the puffs loosely and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours before baking.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the potato puffs for about 15 minutes, until light golden brown and heated through.